The “Bell of the Inquisition” called Goan’s to “acts of faith” when
Jews and “New Christians” were bunt in Old Goa. The same bell call
the parishioners for mass in the Panjim Church.
The Navhind Times, 7th of July 2013. By. Ivar Fjeld.
The present day Goan’s are free from guilt of the crimes committed
during the Inquisition of Goa in the years 1560 A.D to 1812 A.D. But
few people are aware that the same bell that called the parishioners to
the “act of faith” in Old Goa, are still in use. Today, the “bell of the
Inquisition” calls for mass in the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate
Conception in Panaji.
The “Bell of the Inquisition” was first shifted from the ruins of St. Augustine complex, former Church of Our Lady of Grace in Old Goa, to the Lighthouse at Aguada. The vault of the St. Augustine complex collapsed in 1842 A.D, and gradually left as a ruin.
Between 1841 A.D and 1871 A.D the lighthouse housed the 2.225 kilo bell. Finally the bell was removed from Aguada, and placed on top
of the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Panaji. The sound of the large “Bell of the Inquisition”, heralded the
beginning of the “Auto da Fe”, or ‘the act of faith”.
A Frenchman, Charles Dellon, wrote an eyewitness account on the crimes committed by the religious tribunal in Old Goa. Dellon believed
in Jesus the Messiah, but was arrested, imprisoned, and put for trial. He recalls an act of faith in August 1676 A.D. Dellon heard the bell ringing, from the cathedral of the Dominican order, who were the persecutors,
or the inquisitors, during the Inquisition in Goa.
“The great bell of the Cathedral tolled a little before sun rise, as a signal to the multitude to assemble for the august solemnnity of the “Auto da Fe”, which is the triumph of the Holy Office, and we were Chapter -VIII, 51 than commanded to go forth one by one”.
In his book “Memoirs of Goa”, Alfredo DeMello also recall the ringing of the bell in Old Goa.
“Standing up all night, at last at 5.30 a.m. the sun rose, and the bell of the cathedral started tolling. This was the signal for the population of Goa to wake up, and come to witness the august ceremony of the “auto da fe”.
In his book “The Goa Inquisition”, A.K Priolkar gives us an account of Dr.Buchanans visit to Goa in 1808 A.D. Also Buchanan recalls the ringing of this bell.
“While we were conversing on the subject (the Inquisition sic), the great bell began to toll, the same which Dellon observes always tolls, before day light, on the morning of the “auto da fe”.
An unknown number of Jews, New Christians and others convicted as heretics, were burnt at stake in Old Goa. Dellon explains not only the living was executed during these acts of faith.
“It is necessary to mention that the jurisdiction of the Inquisition is not limited to the living, or to those who have died in prison, but processes are often instituted against person who have been dead many years before their accusations. When any important charge is preferred against a person deceased, his body is taken out of the tomb, and, in
convictions, consumed at the Act of Faith” His estates are seized, and those who have taken possession compelled to refund. I state nothing but what I have witness”…..His bones were (or perhaps those of some other person who had been buried in the same place) burnt. We know that Garcia da Orta was one of the victims. His grave was
reopened, and his remains put for trial. The bell rang, and his bones
were burned, convicted for the heresy of Judaism, the faith and religion
of the Jewish people.
Who came to Old Goa to participate in these acts?
Dellon writes: «The hall was flled by the Inhabitants of Goa, whose names were
entered in a list”. 52
«We were lead through the principal streets, and every where regarded by an immense crowd which came from all parts of India, and lined all the roads by which we passed. Notice having been given from the pulpit in the most distant parishes long before the Act of Faith was to be celebrated”.
Neither the Vatican, nor the state of Portugal, or the Government of Goa have issued an apology for the crimes committed when the bell of the inquisition rang. There seems to be a need for repentance. To both offcially express regret for the atrocities of the past, and put the religious items of the Inquisition from places of worship and into a museum or memorial.